Evidence for non-random distribution of pollen in human coprolites Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2019, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. Methods of processing and sampling human coprolites have changed drastically since the early days of forcing material through metal grates by hand. However, it would seem that rather than standardizing sampling size and sampling location, practices for collecting material have become specialized by preference and research focus. When sampling a human coprolite for pollen data, sample size and sampling location are two important and interlinked factors that affect the conclusions of a study. By subsampling five coprolites, five times, in five different locations on each coprolite, we were able to compare the pollen ratios derived from each subsample. We conclude that not only is pollen distribution within a single coprolite heterogeneous, but this lack of homogeneity can result in different interpretations of the coprolites’ contents. These different interpretations can affect conclusions concerning the diets of ancient inhabitants and conclusions concerning the paleoenvironments of the associated archaeological sites. As this study is not definitive, we encourage others to attempt similar studies on coprolites from different sites for comparison.

author list (cited authors)

  • Beck, C. W., Bryant, V. M., & McDonough, K. N.

citation count

  • 3

publication date

  • November 2019